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[Tsutsumu] Japanese Furoshiki: Cloth for Carrying and Wrapping

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Today’s blog is all about Japanese Furoshiki which is very unique to Japan !

You may have come across a store at site seeing spots in Japan which only sells square or rectangular cloth. These are not bed sheets or cushion covers: they are furoshiki. Japanese Furoshiki is used as wrapping goods for convenience of carrying. Japanese Furoshiki is written 風呂敷: 風呂, furo, means bath ,and 敷, shiki, means to lay. The origin of this word, though there are several theories, comes from people laying large cloth under themselves while taking off cloths to bathe then wrapping their garments in the cloth to the end of Muromachi Era (1333-1573).

Wrapping gifts in Japanese Furoshiki is considered a courteous gesture, since the gift itself is protected from unpurified outside world. There are controversies to how sender is to handle the Japanese furoshiki-wrapped gift. Some say it is rude for the sender to hand the furoshiki wrapped gift to the recipient since it may be interpreted as the sender asking for a return gift in the same furoshiki. Therefore, it is a modern manner for the sender to take the gift out of the furoshiki then hand the gift to the recipient to avoid this misunderstanding.

More modern interpretation of Japanese furoshiki is that thin furoshiki itself is used as gift wrapping and not for the purpose of carrying or protecting it. Recently, you see people using furoshiki as “eco-bag”, ecological bag; instead of taking home groceries in store-provided plastic bags/brown bags, furoshiki can be used as its replacement. There are Japanese furoshiki wrapping classes as well since it can be folded into different shaped bags.

Because modern furoshiki comes in different color, size and design, you will be able to find one that suits your purpose and likes. Hope you will come across a personal furoshiki.

**More articles on tsutsumu to follow!